Sei sulla pagina 1di 4

EN BANC

[A.C. No. 4838. July 29, 2003.]

EMILIO GRANDE, Complainant, v. ATTY. EVANGELINE DE SILVA, Respondent.

DECISION

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:

Complainant Emilio Grande was the private offended party in Criminal Cases Nos. 96-1346 to 96-1353, filed with the
Regional Trial Court of Marikina City, Branch 273, for Estafa and Violation of Batas Pambansa Bilang 22, entitled "People of
the Philippines, Plaintiff versus Sergio Natividad, Accused." During the proceedings, respondent Atty. Evangeline de Silva,
counsel for the accused, tendered to complainant Check No. 0023638 in the amount of P144,768.00, drawn against her
account with the Philippine National Bank, as settlement of the civil aspect of the case against her client. Complainant
refused to accept the check, but respondent assured him that the same will be paid upon its presentment to her drawee
bank. She manifested that as a lawyer, she would not issue a check which is not sufficiently funded. Thus, respondent was
prevailed upon by complainant to accept the check. Consequently, he desisted from participating as a complaining witness
in the criminal case, which led to the dismissal of the same and the release of the accused, Sergio Natividad. chanrob1e s virtua1 1aw 1ib rary

When complainant deposited the check, the same was returned unpaid by the drawee bank for the reason: "Account
Closed." On June 19, 1997, complainant wrote a letter to respondent demanding that she pay the face value of the check.
1 However, his demand was ignored by respondent; hence, he instituted a criminal complaint against her for Estafa and
Violation of Batas Pambansa Bilang 22 with the Office of the City Prosecutor of Marikina, which was docketed as I.S. No.
97-1036. On September 22, 1997, the Marikina City Prosecutor filed the necessary information for violation of Batas
Pambansa Bilang 22 against respondent Atty. Evangeline de Silva. 2

On November 10, 1997, complainant filed the instant administrative complaint for disbarment of respondent for deceit and
violation of the Lawyer’s Oath. 3

In a Resolution dated February 2, 1998 sent to respondent’s given address at Carmelo Compound, Newton Avenue,
Mayamot, Antipolo City, she was required to comment on the complaint within ten (10) days from notice. 4 However, it
was returned unserved with the notation "Moved." 5 The Assistant National Secretary of the IBP submitted the latest
address of respondent as 274 M.H. Del Pilar Street, Pasig City. 6

On June 20, 2001, another resolution requiring respondent to comment on the administrative complaint filed against her
was served at the aforesaid address. This was again returned unserved with the notation: "Refused." Thus, the case was
referred to the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD) for investigation, report and recommendation. 7

In a Report dated December 6, 2001, Investigating Commissioner Florimond C. Rous found respondent guilty of deceit,
gross misconduct and violation of the Lawyer’s Oath. Thus, he recommended that respondent be suspended from the
practice of law for two (2) years.

On October 19, 2002, the IBP Board of Governors passed Resolution No. XV-2002-554 which adopted the recommendation
of the Investigating Commissioner that respondent be suspended from the practice of law for two (2) years. chanrob1es v irt ua1 1aw 1 ibra ry

We fully agree with the findings and recommendation of the IBP Board of Governors. chanrob1es vi rtua1 1aw 1ib rary

The record shows that respondent prevailed upon complainant to accept her personal check by way of settlement for the
civil liability of her client, Sergio Natividad, with the assurance that the check will have sufficient funds when presented for
payment. In doing so, she deceived complainant into withdrawing his complaint against her client in exchange for a check
which she drew against a closed account.

It is clear that the breach of trust committed by respondent in issuing a bouncing check amounted to deceit and
constituted a violation of her oath, for which she should be accordingly penalized. 8 Such an act constitutes gross
misconduct and the penalties for such malfeasance is prescribed by Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of Court, to wit: chanrob1es vi rtua l 1aw lib ra ry

SEC. 27. Disbarment and suspension of attorneys by Supreme Court, grounds therefore. — A member of the bar may be
disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit, malpractice or other gross
misconduct in such office, grossly immoral conduct or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or
for any violation of the oath which he is required to take before the admission to practice, or for a willful disobedience
appearing as attorney for a party without authority to do so.

The nature of the office of an attorney requires that a lawyer shall be a person of good moral character. Since this
qualification is a condition precedent to a license to enter upon the practice of law, the maintenance thereof is equally
essential during the continuance of the practice and the exercise of the privilege. Gross misconduct which puts the lawyer’s
moral character in serious doubt may render her unfit to continue in the practice of law. 9
The loss of moral character of a lawyer for any reason whatsoever shall warrant her suspension or disbarment, 10 because
it is important that members of the legal brotherhood must conform to the highest standards of morality. 11 Any
wrongdoing which indicates moral unfitness for the profession, whether it be professional or non-professional, justifies
disciplinary action. Thus, a lawyer may be disciplined for evading payment of a debt validly incurred. Such conduct is
unbecoming and does not speak well of a member of the bar, for a lawyer’s professional and personal conduct must at all
times be kept beyond reproach and above suspicion. 12

Moreover, the attitude of respondent in deliberately refusing to accept the notices served on her betrays a deplorably
willful character or disposition which stains the nobility of the legal profession. 13 Her conduct not only underscores her
utter lack of respect for authority; it also brings to the fore a darker and more sinister character flaw in her psyche which
renders highly questionable her moral fitness to continue in the practice of law: a defiance for law and order which is at the
very core of her profession.

Such defiance is anathema to those who seek a career in the administration of justice because obedience to the dictates of
the law and justice is demanded of every lawyer. How else would respondent even endeavor to serve justice and uphold
the law when she disdains to follow even simple directives? Indeed, the first and foremost command of the Code of
Professional Responsibility could not be any clearer: chanrob1es vi rtua l 1aw lib rary

CANON 1. A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION OBEY THE LAWS OF THE LAND AND PROMOTE RESPECT FOR
LEGAL PROCESSES.

Needless to state, respondent’s persistent refusal to comply with lawful orders directed at her with not even an explanation
for doing so is contumacious conduct which merits no compassion. The duty of a lawyer is to uphold the integrity and
dignity of the legal profession at all times. She can only do this by faithfully performing her duties to society, to the bar, to
the courts and to her clients. 14 We can not tolerate any misconduct that tends to besmirch the fair name of an honorable
profession. chanrob1e s virtua1 1aw 1 ibra ry

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, respondent ATTY. EVANGELINE DE SILVA is SUSPENDED from the practice of law
for a period of Two (2) Years, effective upon receipt hereof. Let copies of this Decision be entered in her record as attorney
and be furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and all courts in the country for their information and guidance.

SO ORDERED.

Davide, Jr., C.J., Bellosillo, Puno, Vitug, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Corona, Carpio-Morales,
Callejo, Sr., Azcuna and Tinga, JJ., concur.

Sandoval-Gutierrez, J., is on leave.

Endnotes:

1. Rollo, p. 4.

2. Id., pp. 5-6.

3. Id., pp. 1-3.

4. Id., p. 7.

5. Id., p. 16.

6. Id., p. 21.

7. Id., p. 27.

8. Cesar A. Espiritu v. Atty. Juan Cabredo IV, A.M. No. 5831, 13 January 2003.

9. Balinon v. De Leon, 94 Phil. 277 [1954].

10. Royong v. Oblena, 117 Phil. 865 [1963]; In re De los Angeles, 106 Phil. 1 [1959]; Mortel v. Aspiras, 100 Phil. 586
[1956].

11. Pangan v. Ramos, 194 Phil. 1 [1981].

12. Constantino v. Saludares, A.M. No. 2029, 7 December 1993, 228 SCRA 233.

13. Sencio v. Calvadores, A.M. No. 5841, 20 January 2003.

14. Reyes v. Javier, A.C. No. 5574, 2 February 2002.


Emilio Grande vs. Atty. Evangeline De Silva

FACTS:

Complainant Grande was the private offended party in certain Criminal Cases entitled “People vs. Sergio
Natividad.

During the proceedings, respondent Atty. De Silva, counsel of the accused, tendered to complainant a
check drawn against her account as settlement of the civil aspect of the said case. Complainant refused
to accept it but respondent assured him that the same will be paid upon its presentment and as a lawyer
she will not issue a check which is not sufficiently funded. So, complainant accepted the check.

When complainant deposited the check, the same was returned unpaid by the drawee bank for the
reason: “Account Closed”. Then, he wrote a demand letter to the respondent but the latter ignored it.
Hence, complainant instituted a criminal case for violation of B.P. 22 and the instant disbarment case
against respondent.

A Resolution requiring her to comment on the complaint was sent to her, but she moved to another
location. So, a second Resolution was sent to her new address, but she refused to accept it.

The case was referred tothe IBP Commission on Bar Disciplinewhich recommended that the respondent
be suspended from the practice of law for 2 years for deceit, gross misconduct and violation of Lawyer’s
Oath.

The IBP Board of Governors adopted the same.

ISSUE:

W/N respondent violated the Lawyer’s Oath.

RULING:

YES. Respondent assured that the check has sufficient funds. In doing so, she deceived complainant into
withdrawing his complaint against her client in exchange for a check which she drew against a closed
account.It is clear that the breach of trust committed by respondent in issuing a bouncing check
amounted to deceit and constituted a violation of her oath, for which she should be accordingly
penalized. Such an act constitutes gross misconduct.

Moreover, the attitude of respondent in deliberately refusing to accept the notices served on her
betrays a deplorably willful character or disposition which stains the nobility of the legal profession.Her
conduct not only underscores her utter lack of respect for authority; it also brings to the fore a darker
and more sinister character flaw in her psyche which renders highly questionable her moral fitness to
continue in the practice of law: a defiance for law and order which is at the very core of her profession.
Such defiance is anathema to those who seek a career in the administration of justice
because obedience to the dictates of the law and justice is demanded of every lawyer; as stated in
Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.